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Emily Culbertson's childhood could pass as a bad sitcom. Born as the last of seven children, a full eight years after child #6, a precocious child grows up in a small Indiana town with middle-age parents. The first episode would start with her birth and the circumstances surrounding it. The key question: why would a father in his late 50s and a 40-year-old mother decide to have another child? "We didn't decide," admits Mom. "She happened." "We were all kind of stunned," added her oldest sister Vicki Oberman. "Oops." But this strange situation, relatives say, turned out well for all involved. Oberman said her parents were better off with a child later in life and Culbertson herself managed to have her parents' undivided attention. Culbertson escaped her childhood unscathed and managed to make a name for herself as a star athlete and student at her local high school. She fled Indiana to continue her success at the University and is now poised to take on the position of Assistant Managing Editor of the DP. Culbertson, a College junior and history major, will be in charge of designing the layout of the DP and will help guide the paper's beat reporting staff. Culbertson's high school friends said they saw a future for her in journalism when she was editor of Richmond High School's semi-weekly paper, The Register. Elizabeth Thompson said Culbertson handled all the tough news assignments "because she wasn't scared of interviewing like the rest of us were." As a reporter for the DP, Culbertson was far from intimidated by difficult stories. In her first semester as a beat reporter she had to write stories about the "Pig Penn" show on UTV and then moved on last spring to cover the University's funding battle with the state. This fall she covered city politics and had to ask tough questions of mayoral candidates Ed Rendell and Joe Egan and U.S. Senate candidate Harris Wofford. But journalism wasn't always her only interest. When she was younger, she was an accomplished pianist who once performed with the local symphony. And in high school, she was best known as an exceptional swimmer and set five school records. Thompson said Culbertson was well known on the swim team for making fashion statements with her swimsuits. Rather than buy new suits, Culbertson would wear old ones until they fell apart. As one former coach said, "when it became embarassing, she would wear another one under it." "They were all blue-green faded swimsuits and they were all hanging in pieces," Thompson said. Culbertson also made a statement, Thompson said, by wearing cutoffs without shaving her legs, "which in Indiana is almost a sin." Cutoffs continue to be her normal wear, complementing her hair style that incoming 34th Street editor Matt Selman describes as a "Little Dutch Boy, Prince Valiant, Holland look." Culbertson also has her share of strange habits. She is borderline nocturnal. Her room is a complete mess and she is an admitted slob. She has a strange taste in food, with her standard diet ranging from Pringle's Cheez-Ums to pita bread with sour cream and onion dip. But Dan Schwartz, her boyfriend since her freshman year, revealed that she likes to be scratched on the back. "If you scratch her just right she'll purr like a cat," he said.

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